Dominoes 3

This is unexpected. Xingyiquan has been touted as an aggressive internal art; like a cannon on wheels. However, in this match the xingyi practitioner is more like a cannon stuck in the mud.


I asked my student if he had seen this as he had previously learned xingyi. It was surprising to hear hear him say that he got out of xingyi because of the over-emphasis on power, making him stuck to the spot and unable to move.

I can understand this considering that after so many years I am still working on getting rid of his old habits. For example, when I throw a strike from the side his instinct is to block it rather than to use the angle to absorb the strike. I pointed out the part of the form where we practice this.

The key to nailing this part of the form is the position. However, it is common for students to be obsessed by the strike in the movement. Hence, when they do that they will overlook the importance of the secondary hand.

When the hand is not positioned properly his attempt to block the strike caused his balance to be affected, leaving him vulnerable to follow-up strikes. With proper use of angles and stance he can neutralize the strike with lesser movement and keep his balance intact.

The other point is that if he tried to block the side strike he would be vulnerable to a chain of follow-up strikes from the same hand that he just blocked. This sequence of strikes from the study of Pok Khek Kuen made a nice study in how to link up strikes to overcome attempts to stop it. For the person under attack it is a good practice in not freezing up.

To remedy the problem fortunately his form training has made it much easier for him to pick up on the corrective skill right away. The only thing to do now is to keep drilling it until it becomes second nature.

This was also the right time to re-emphasize and explain again why proper study of push hands is important. An important point to keep in mind is that push hands is not sumo shoving so we should refrain from mindless shoving matches which is not useful.

The study of push hands should include distancing, spacing, angling, positioning, stepping, guarding, changes, flow etc. For example, an old habit that is also commonly seen in other students in the tendency to move back whilst still staying in the path of a strike.

The practice of push hands is to eliminate this response which allows our opponent to continue with the attack. Instead, we should study how the principle and strategy of Step Back, Repulse Monkey is to be used to teach us how to instantly counter-attack and not give a free pass to the opponent.

We should keep in mind that combat is about movement. Hence, in our Tai Chi we do not practice zhanzhuang which can promote a habit of standing there trying to resist an opponent that is moving around and launching missiles at us. No matter how rooted you are or how powerful you are in issuing power if you get tagged in the head you will go down. So learn to move and stop standing there like a punching bag.


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